A young boy and his boots struggle against gender stereotypes.
Dylan is starting at a new school and wants “one cool thing.” He falls for a pair of purple boots dotted with glow-in-the-dark poison dart frogs despite his mom’s mild disapproval, loving how they make him feel “cool and smart.” On his first day, though, one kid announces that “that boy’s wearing girl boots”; peers agree with that claim, and the teacher strides ahead without addressing it. School is off to a rough start until Dylan decides that he loves poison dart frogs no matter what the background color is, and after a week he marches back into school, boots on his feet, because “girls don’t own purple.” Flat watercolor illustrations show brown-skinned Dylan and his multiracial classmates clomp-tromping around mostly white backgrounds, illustrating the text but failing to add any depth or nuance to the equally flat scenario. The writing careens from awkwardly juvenile to confusingly clunky, with sentences that are sometimes choppy and sometimes overlong. The narrative is further marred by uneven pacing and an uninteresting structure. Books featuring cis boys transgressing gender norms are currently a dime a dozen, and this one fails to add anything compelling to the canon.
Frog boots are undeniably cool; sadly, this book is not. (Picture book. 4-8)